CHENNAI: Like all clubs, Chennaiyin FC have brought in several new faces as they chase their third ISL title. Among the new faces is head coach Csaba László, who’s likely to be the man in focus. With over two decades of coaching experience, at club and international level, this will be the 56-year-old’s first stint in Asia.
With the coronavirus pandemic affecting every club, László will have his task cut out but the Romania-born Hungarian is looking forward to the challenge. Aside from playing on the field, adjusting to living in a bio-bubble could be a massive test for everyone, but the coach feels that the players can use the situation to their advantage and bond well as a team to deliver a strong show. Chennaiyin’s loyal fans, known as Supermachans, will also be not around. But the coach said that the club, who begin their campaign on Tuesday, will strive to play an attractive brand of football. Excerpts...
Your first impression of India, the club and players.
Very good. The players, staff and everyone else have been very welcoming. It is truly a honour for me to be the head coach of Chennaiyin FC, a club with great recent success. We have to build on this success and derive from the winning mentality at the club.
Reasons that made you commit to the two-time champs.
When the opportunity to join the club arose, I didn’t think twice. Like I mentioned, there is a lot of recent success and potential at the club in what is a very competitive league. So it will be a fantastic challenge, one that my coaching staff and I are looking forward to.
Challenges of playing without fans as well as living in a bio-bubble like setting?
That’s a challenge that will be faced by all clubs, coaching staff and players. It is something we need to come to terms with and accept, and focus on the positives. Obviously, we are sad that we won’t be with our fans, but it is necessary to conduct the season in this manner. At the same time, we need to make the most of the positives too. We will be in a bio-bubble environment for the entire duration of the season, there will be familiarity that will help with recovery and preparation. We all spend more time with each other, leading to a strong bond between every single person associated with the club.
You have over two decades of experience. Is there any mantra that you have stuck with over the years? Something that could be applied this season.
It is to trust the process and to improve as a team. We must identify the strengths of every single individual in the squad, and place utmost trust in the process. Only then will we achieve success in a competitive league like the ISL.
Any player that has caught your eye?
I won’t be taking names, but there are a lot of players, especially young Indian blood. And I’m certain I can work with them and improve facets of their game, that will hold them in good stead for both club and country in the long run.
CFC have had three Golden Boot winners and thrived on the back of their success. Jakub Sylvestr/Isma are players who’ll be in focus this time. How important will their role be for the team?
Their role in the forward positions will definitely be massive. But all of the brunt will not be borne by them. We need everyone to contribute. There will be zero margin for error in a competitive league like the ISL, in a season as unique as this. It will also take teams some amount of acclimatisation to playing in empty stadia. It will be very interesting.
What style are you looking to adopt?
My coaching staff and I endeavour our team to play an attractive brand of football. Our training sessions and preparation are catered towards that. As much as we talk tactics and technical stuff, we need to be pleasing on the eye, also for our legions of fans watching back home in Chennai and elsewhere around the country.
View on five-substitute rule.
I am a huge proponent of the five substitutions rule, due to the lack of pre-season and preparation time we’ve had. It will be hugely beneficial in terms of options, as well as aiding in recovery and attaining match sharpness in a measured manner.
BFC test for Goa
A new-look FC Goa, strengthened with the addition of new foreign players and a new head coach, will begin their ISL campaign with fresh vigour when they clash with formidable Bengaluru FC, on Sunday. Goa have never won the title and would be hoping that this time around they go one step forward than 2018 and 2015 seasons, when they emerged as runners-up.